FAMILY TIME: Maggie McGuren wonders what the system will be when her nine-month-old baby Katelyn Johnson requires childcare. Photo: Adam Hourigan
FAMILY TIME: Maggie McGuren wonders what the system will be when her nine-month-old baby Katelyn Johnson requires childcare. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Clarence families not sold on childcare subsidy change

A NEW set of findings from the Productivity Commission into childcare subsidies looks on paper to be a step in the right direction for Clarence Valley families. However, some are sceptical of the proposals, labelling them as a negative change.

The Productivity Commission has suggested drastically simplifying childcare subsidies into a new means tested, sliding scale structure approach to childcare subsidies with the inclusion of nannies.

However, local mum of one Maggie McGuren is not sure whether this idea is the best for families in Grafton.

"It's not affecting me yet, but I know it will," Ms McGuren said. "It would most likely benefit my family, but I think it is a very back to front way of solving the problem.

"The way I see it is that they are blanketing people into categories based on earnings. The problem I see with that is that there are factors that they aren't taking into consideration past earnings, such as living arrangements and current expenses.

"They need to be doing different things to be helping the childcare industry and nannies."

The idea of the sliding scale benefits is to allow non-working mothers to better afford putting their children into child care so they can rejoin the work force faster.

The findings of the Productivity Commission recommend a sliding scale with families on incomes at or below $60,000 getting an 85 per cent subsidy. For family incomes at or above $250,000, the subsidy would be 20 per cent.

2011 Census data revealed that the Clarence Valley's median household income was at $39,936 per year, which puts most local families in line for the highest rate of subsidy in the proposed scheme.

However, Director of Blinky's Children's Centre Danielle Sharman does not believe that this signals the new subsidy scheme as a benefit for Grafton.

"Many people who work at the moment do so only to cover the cost of childcare," Ms Sharman said.

"The way I understand it is, that it is going to be based on a marked cost for childcare, so if a centre charges more than the marked price, then parents are going to have to cover the extra cost themselves.

"The parents that are on lower income will probably be better but you could also lose out completely. It will negatively affect people in Grafton. "I can't see how it could be a positive thing.

"It will affect the parents in the area and if it affects the parents then it will affect the centres in the area as well.

"And that is what really matters, because that will then affect the children and they are what truly matter."

Currently, parents get a non-means tested childcare rebate of 50 per cent capped at $7500 per child a year.



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